Stuttering in adults can be caused by a number of factors. Many adults who stutter were diagnosed with this communication disorder as a child and never grew out of the problem. The likelihood of an individual growing out of stuttering after the age of three and a half years of age and twelve to twenty-four months after the start of the disfluencies is unlikely. This type of stuttering is considered child onset fluency disorder, but stuttering remains in about 20% of individuals who begin stuttering as a child.
What causes stuttering in adults?
If the individual was not stuttering as a child, there are three possible diagnoses that account for sudden onset of stuttering in adults. The causes of stuttering in adults who did not stutter as children can stem from a psychogenic origin, an underlying disease, or a stroke.
Adult onset fluency disorder is diagnosed when sudden stuttering in adults develops with no organic basis and appears to be psychogenic in origin. The recommended stuttering treatment for adults with this diagnosis is counseling.
Stuttering help for adults is warranted if the fluency disorder has an underlying disease or conditions. This type of stuttering in adults is diagnosed when specific types of speech disfluencies are noted after an individual experiences head trauma, tumors, degenerative diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis), other diseases (e.g. meningitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, AIDS), or as a side effect of some medications.
Stuttering problems in adults can begin as a late effect of cerebrovascular disease and is diagnosed when stuttering exists after a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) or ischemic attacks.
Treatment for stuttering in adults is recommended regardless of the initial cause. A speech-language pathologist who specializes in this type of communication disorders is the best resource to develop stuttering activities for adults and stuttering exercises for adults.
Please read the How to Stop Stuttering page to learn more about stuttering therapy approaches and the types of stuttering exercises for adults.